Updates from Monday, May 19
Just over a week after getting suspended by the Dolphins for his intensive tweets directed towards Michael Sam, the team has made a decision on Don Jones' future with the team according to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports:
Jones was required to undergo "educational training" as part of his condition for reinstatement.— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) May 19, 2014
Updates from Friday, May 16
Alex Marvez of Fox Sports provided a statement from Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey discussing Don Jones' status with the team on SiriusXM NFL Radio with host Solomon Wilcots:
We’re still working through that [Hickey said on the timetable for Jones' return].
It’s part of the continuing education of players -- just the value and the positive things that social media can be used to and some of the other things trying to stay positive as an organization [Hickey said of his team’s social-media training].
These guys represent the organization and what we’re about. We’re moving forward with that. Don was remorseful.
With their feet to the fire after the latest instance of a player embarrassing the franchise via social media, the Miami Dolphins are taking a stand.
Safety Don Jones was fined an undisclosed amount and will be excused from organized team activities following controversial statements the second-year player made after the St. Louis Rams selected Michael Sam in the 2014 NFL draft.
"We were disappointed to read Don's tweets during the NFL draft," head coach Joe Philbin said in a team-issued statement. "They were inappropriate and unacceptable, and we regret the negative impact these comments had on such an important weekend for the NFL."
Jones, 23, used his public Twitter account Sunday to express his displeasure with ESPN showing footage of Sam kissing his boyfriend after the Rams selected him with the No. 249 overall pick. Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald noted that Jones' shock—he tweeted "OMG" and "Horrible" about the footage—was specifically about the kiss the two shared and not that he was drafted.
Sam, a consensus All-American and SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, is the first openly gay player drafted in NFL history. He is attempting to become the second openly gay athlete to play in one of the United States' four major professional sports leagues, joining Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins.
In the aftermath of Jones' now-deleted tweets, he was admonished by many for what they deemed insensitivity to the situation. Sam has not publicly commented on Jones' remarks or that of any others who have criticized St. Louis for taking him. Jones nonetheless offered an apology for what he called "inappropriate" comments, via the Dolphins' team statement:
I want to apologize to Michael Sam for the inappropriate comments that I made last night on social media. I take full responsibility for them and I regret that these tweets took away from his draft moment. I remember last year when I was drafted in the seventh round and all of the emotions and happiness I felt when I received the call that gave me an opportunity to play for an NFL team and I wish him all the best in his NFL career. I sincerely apologize to Mr. Ross, my teammates, coaches, staff and fans for these tweets. I am committed to represent the values of the Miami Dolphins organization and appreciate the opportunity I have been given to do so going forward.
Jones' reinstatement will be contingent on his completion of "educational training." The team did not specify what type of treatment he would undergo, though the most likely option is sensitivity training.
The Dolphins were undoubtedly proactive in part because of their own recent history of locker room insensitivity. Last season, offensive lineman Jonathan Martin left the team after being constantly harassed and bullied by teammates—most notably, Richie Incognito. Neither Martin nor Incognito is still with the team.
Miami center Mike Pouncey, who was linked to the Martin bullying saga, received criticism over the weekend after making a joke about Dolphins first-round pick Ja'Wuan James buying the team gifts on Twitter. Pouncey has since deleted his Twitter account, and the Dolphins handled the matter internally.
"We talked with Mike, and Mike understands that sometimes things can be taken out of context," Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said in a team release. "What's meant as a light-hearted comment can be taken out of context. We talked with Mike and he was good with that and understands social media is a great tool to reach our fans for the positive. But you have to make good choices with that."
There was no suspension or fine announced for Pouncey.
Jones, a 2013 seventh-round pick, made 10 tackles and forced two fumbles during his rookie season, playing mostly on special teams. He is expected to compete for the backup free safety spot in camp.
These comments undoubtedly will do little to help his cause—internally or if Jones hits the open market. That said, it's at least comforting that he is owning up to his mistake and was willing to offer a quick apology to Sam and those offended.
Follow Tyler Conway on Twitter: